It was a long time coming, but video games are finally about to get more expensive. With inflation and ballooning budgets, video games can sometimes struggle to be as profitable as they need to be. 2K recently revealed their cover athletes for NBA 2K21, and along with that, they also revealed that the PS5 and Xbox Series X versions of the game will be $69.99, a full $10 more than its current-gen counterpart.
Mike Piscatella, NPD analyst, tweeted that “$69.99 may be the new standard pricing for next gen titles. Would be first uptick in base software pricing since Activision went with $59.99 for Call of Duty 2 15 years ago. It’s about time. ‘NBA 2K21 price is $10 more expensive on Xbox Series X and PS5.’”
Additionally, Shawn Layden, former PlayStation executive, recently foreshadowed something like this happening at Gamelab Live. “It’s been $59.99 since I started in this business, but the cost of games have gone up ten times. If you don’t have elasticity on the price-point, but you have huge volatility on the cost line, the model becomes more difficult. I think this generation is going to see those two imperatives collide,” Layden said.
The industry has been trying to hold this higher barrier of entry off for a while now. More expensive, “Deluxe” editions of games and microtransactions have served as ways for companies to increase their margins while at the same time keeping the base price the same.
That business model is changing, but maybe not all at once.
So far, NBA 2K21 is the only next-gen title to be confirmed at that new increased price point. Games that support Xbox Smart Delivery and Sony’s equivalent service will probably be the same price across generations. It wouldn’t make sense for consumers to pay more for the next-gen version if they could just buy the current-gen version and get the next-gen update for free.
Video games have been $59.99 since the launch of the Xbox 360, which launched all the way back in November of 2005. While first-party launch games such as Project Gotham Racing 3 and Perfect Dark Zero remained at $49.99, third party launch titles such as Call of Duty 2 made the $10 leap to the price point we still see today. It remains to be seen whether or not the PC version of games will also see an increase.